Thursday, January 05, 2006

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #32!

This is the thirty-second in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous thirty-one.

Let's begin!

Today is another special theme week, inspired by a request by David Campbell, asking to clear up one of the urban legends on the list today.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The GI Joe series was partially based on a previous Marvel pitch Larry Hama made to Marvel.

STATUS: True

In the early 80s, Hasbro came to Marvel looking to both have a comic book to tie into their new launch of smaller, more detailed GI Joes and also have a back story for the characters.

Luckily, Marvel editor Larry Hama already had developed a series for Marvel that had not been picked up called Fury Force, which was about, oddly enough, a group of specialized soldiers who worked for SHIELD.

The concepts very easily translated to Hasbro's pitch, and Hama was given the job of not just writing the comic, but designing the backstory for each toy character.

According to Hama (in an interview at QKTheatre.com),
There were a lot of holdovers from the 'Fury Force' concept that I had been developing for Marvel at the time. The whole idea of a secret base under a motor pool, for instance. I even had a "Snake-Eyes" type character, who didn't speak, had his face covered with a cowl and was a mysterious assassin type. He carried a pump shotgun and a commando knife in his boot and was actually inspired by the Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah (Wolf Who Stands in Water) character in the old 'Yancy Derringer' TV show.
Luckily for us, Metropolis Comics got ahold of the original Fury Force design sheets, and they have a nice bit about it at this link. Here are some of the original designs:

The whole team

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Hawk

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Scarlett

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Soon, all of these characters would make their way, in one form or another, into 1982's smash hit, GI Joe #1.

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Oddly enough, though, while you might have expected that Cobra was just a substitute for Hydra, that was not the case. Archie Goodwin came up with the concept of Cobra after Hasbro approached Marvel.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The famous "Silent Issue" of GI Joe was originally meant to have dialogue in it, but it was left out due to some sort of error.

STATUS: False

The 1984 issue of GI Joe #21 has become a modern comic classic.

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The concept of an entire comic without any dialogue was fairly novel at the time (not the first time it was done, but one of the most notable), and on such a popular title!

Rumors have swirled around since then, because the idea was SO weird, that it was not INTENTIONAL, that the dialogue was lost in a printing error, or something like that.

This, however, was not the case.

It is true that the issue was produced in haste, as the book was behind schedule, leaving Larry Hama to not only write the issue, but DRAW the issue as well (behind that awesome Mike Zeck cover).

However, the idea for the silent issue was in Hama's head for awhile. According to Hama (in an interview with Dwight Jon Zimmerman, from David Anthony Kraft's Comics Interview #37 & 38),
I wanted to see if I could do a story that was a real, complete story - beginning, middle, end, conflict, characterization, action, solid resolution - without balloons or captions or sound effects. I tried to do it again, as a matter of fact, with the Joe Yearbook #3 story.
So while yes, the genesis of the issue probably came due to Hama's interest coinciding with a need for haste, but the issue was always meant to be dialogue-less.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: One of the G.I. Joes was based upon Larry Hama himself.

STATUS: True

For years, one of the coolest things about the GI Joe toys was how much effort and detail Larry Hama went into with the backstory and origin of each member of the team. Hama would often give characters real names that were puns or names of people he knew, even going so far as to take names off of the Vietnam War Memorial (Hama, himself, was an Army veteran) as a tribute to the fallen soldiers. He eventually dropped this practice when requests became too numerous.

However, in 1987, the ultimate honor that Hasbro could give to Hama came about, they made HIM a GI Joe!

As Hama recounts (in this interview with Dan Epstein), That was a lot of fun. They actually sent the sculptor to take photos of me. He's the same guy that did a lot of the holograms for credit cards. He's a miniaturist sculptor. He did the dove for the VISA card. Once you sort of reduce a likeness to that size, a lot is lost. It was rather flattering.

Here is a picture of the figure (courtesy of Fletch Adams):

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Pretty cool, eh?

Well, to quote the adage, now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you'd like to see featured!!

Read More

19 Comments:

Anonymous SanctumSanctorumComix said...

I accidentally posted this comment at the end of the "original 31" link.

I'll repost it here:

This is some GREAT stuff!

Now, there is a question that I would LOVE to have answered...

Way back in the DOCTOR STRANGE; Sorcerer Supreme series (issue #9, I believe), the book features "excerpts" from a biography about DOC (ostensibly by then cast character / pseudo love-interest, Morganna Blessing).

IN that excerpt is a piece about (and "photo") of DOC hanging out with French artist MOEBIUS.

Now, here's the rumor;
For quite a while prior to that little piece, there was a rumour that MOEBIUS was indeed working on a DOC story.
One that NEVER saw ther light of day.

Anyone know ANYTHING about that?

ThanX!
~P~

1/05/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Man, I had the first issue of G.I. Joe in French. I was in the hospital for something or other overnight and the giftshop only had French comics and that's the one I picked up.

1/05/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger buckshot said...

Larry Hama is Tunnel Rat? Are you SERIOUS!?

1/05/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

What goes around, comes around: Just before the big resurgence of GI JOE comics a few years ago, Bill Rosemann at Marvel did a story that was meant to evoke GI JOE qualities, centering on a team of operatives working for SHIELD. It was all very wink wink, nudge nudge. It saw print in an Annual, I believe. Marvel wasn't interested in paying the high fees for the license, I guess, but people were still asking for the book back. Marvel printed a couple of trades collecting the original series, but then dropped out of it all together.

1/05/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger J. Ott said...

Yes, Hama was the inspiration for Tunnel Rat. He was also an American soldier in an episode of M*A*S*H.

1/05/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanct:

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/moebius.htm

1/05/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So while yes, the genesis of the issue probably came due to Hama's interest coinciding with a need for haste, but the issue was always meant to have dialogue."

Uh, shouldn't that be "was never meant to have dialogue"?

1/05/2006 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Thanks, Anonymous!

I corrected the typo!

1/05/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"What goes around, comes around: Just before the big resurgence of GI JOE comics a few years ago, Bill Rosemann at Marvel did a story that was meant to evoke GI JOE qualities, centering on a team of operatives working for SHIELD. It was all very wink wink, nudge nudge. It saw print in an Annual, I believe. Marvel wasn't interested in paying the high fees for the license, I guess, but people were still asking for the book back. Marvel printed a couple of trades collecting the original series, but then dropped out of it all together."

I totally remember that, Augie, but didn't want to mention it because I could not recall who wrote it...hehe.

And that was supposed to be two separate paragraphs, right? One about the SHIELD squad (who had a dude in a skull mask, if I remember correctly), and one about Marvel reprinting the GI Joe trades, no?

1/05/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Not really an urban legend as such, because I know it happened, but Grant Morrison wrote a story for Action Force (the British equivalent of GI Joe) which tied Quick Kick to Shang-Chi from the Marvel Universe, because Master of Kung Fu was running as a back-up strip in AF, and obviously someone at Marvel UK decided that the two kung fu characters should be associated. I don't recall much, but I think both characters were trained by the same master or something.

Did that story ever get printed in the US?

1/05/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

"kelvingreen said...
but Grant Morrison wrote a story for Action Force (the British equivalent of GI Joe) which tied Quick Kick to Shang-Chi from the Marvel Universe,"

So this, along with Spider-Man appearing in Transformers, Circuitbreaker appearing in Secret Wars II and the GI Joe/Transformers crossover.. there is more than enough to use the Joe team in any "six degrees" game you want huh?

1/05/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Did that story ever get printed in the US?"

Ha!

No, no it did not.

That's pretty funny.

1/05/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Someone needs to do a Essential Random Shit Grant Morrison Did Before He Was Famous.

1/05/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous MarkAndrew said...

I'd buy that!

1/06/2006 01:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't give you a full breakdown, but I'm pretty sure he used to write a Zoids comic for Marvel UK in the 80s; he also cut several of his teeth on the mighty organ that is 2000 AD.

Go to www.2000adonline.com and you can call up a list of the many (and some great) stories that Morrison wrote from 1985-1995ish

1/06/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Nimbus said...

Or, for other Grant Morrison stuff, go to his entry on Wikipedia.
They have a full (?) bibliography.

1/06/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Grant Morrison wrote the Zoids arc in which the evil prison ship officer killed in an earlier issue came back from the dead (because he was a cyborg), complete with spider legs and half a face, built a big indestructible Black Zoid, and proceeded to kill all the Zoids, and a good number of the human cast too.

Unsurprisingly, the book folded soon afterwards.

Probably his greatest 2000ad work is Zenith, which is sort of like that zombie arc from Ultimate Fantastic Four, but with Lovecraftian beasties instead of zombies, and much more epic in scale. Great stuff, and stupidly unavailable due to a rights issue, so I hear.

1/06/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Kashtan said...

I believe that the silent issue of G.I. JOE was inspired by the first few pages of Steranko's first issue of Nick Fury. Hama said something to that effect in his introduction to the Nick Fury: Who Is Scorpio? TPB.

1/08/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Makes sense to me, Aaron.

1/10/2006 01:35:00 AM  

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